Lottery-funded Victoria Square wildlife project begins

By Alex Jones

23rd Feb 2021 | Local News

A project that aims to improve Victoria Square - for humans and wildlife - began this morning.

Funded by a National Lottery grant and led by the community group Friends of Victoria Square, the project will introduce wildlife habitats, wildflower gardens, a bog garden, new trees and various other biodiversity enhancers to the space.

"The ultimate aim is to make it a more pleasurable place to come to, to walk around, to relax in and to participate in the gardening," Friends of Victoria Square Secretary Peter Blackburn tells Nub News.

Friends of Victoria Square was formed in late 2018 for the purpose of improving the ecology and biodiversity of the area.

According to Peter, the space has seldom been tended to in the past thirty years and is in need of maintenance and enhancements.

He and the group first applied for funding from the National Lottery back in 2019.

"We received £9,000 of funding from The National Lottery Heritage fund to conduct a number of baseline surveys on Trees and the general Ecology of the Square," he says.

"By the middle of 2020 we had developed a sufficiently detailed plan to be able to cost the project and submit a bid for funds to The National Lottery Heritage. In January of 2021 we were awarded a £30,000 grant."

Asked whether the sum will cover the full costs of the project, Peter replied:

"Don't forget there will be a huge contribution from volunteers. We've had so much interest already, and hopefully many more will get involved.

"Come and join us. You don't need to be a gardener. You'll be joining a team with a range of skills and you'll be helped along to participate."

Work began this morning with a team of tree surgeons from Steve Ambler and Sons cutting down a fungal-infected cypress.

The man with the chainsaw, Mitchell Ambler, explains why:

"The tree will either fall into the footpath or into the road, so we have to cut it down.

"We're tree people. We would never cut down a tree unnecessarily.

"Doing this is necessary for health and safety and will enable healthy trees around it to thrive."

In the place of old trees, "at least 12" new, healthy ones will be planted.

Peter says he hopes to have helped create something that will live on and improve the wellbeing of future generations.

"Especially at the moment we have realised how important it is to connect with nature.

"The proposed communal garden will be available for all to participate in and to experience how therapeutic gardening can be.

"Towards the end of the project, we will be conducting nature trails around the Square so that people can learn about local nature," he continues.

"We want to improve both the ecology and the social environment, because if you improve one you improve the other."

To join the army of volunteers, follow THIS LINK.


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